Friday, February 29, 2008

What happened to Kosovo could never happen here

What happened to Kosovo could never happen here
Written by Hana Marku, Contributor
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Assessing the situation, Canada's stand on Kosovo

In 1989, the autonomy of Quebec was revoked by a single decision by Brian Mulroney. This decision was to be a final solution to the "Quebec problem." Quebec ceased to exist. French-speaking schools closed and French-speaking Québécois children learned how to read and write French in basements and backrooms. All French-speaking citizens employed in governmental agencies were forced to sign "loyalty" pledges to Ottawa or resign and submit to police questioning. The Canadian military moved en-masse into the province and established military bases in Montreal and Quebec City. Police and military forces patrolled the streets, enforcing strict identity checks and making sure no one was on the street past curfew. Student protests, which sought the reestablishment of provincial autonomy, were repressed with tear gas and tanks. Charter rights were suspended for the province, and a state of emergency was announced. Ottawa declared Quebec's legislature unconstitutional. English-speaking enclaves were favoured and granted special privileges, and anglophones across the country believed Quebec was the very soul of their civilization.A francophone shadow government was created, which held a referendum in 1990. Eighty-seven percent of the population voted, and 99 percent voted for secession from the federation of Canada. Ottawa responded by relocating anglophones from other provinces into Quebec, expelling francophones from their houses and apartments to make room for the newcomers. Independent francophone TV stations, newspapers and radio stations were shut down. Between 1989 and 1999, half of the adult population of Quebec would be interrogated, beaten, arrested and detained by police forces.
A Quebecois Liberation Army (QLA) was formed in 1995, which used guerrilla tactics to attack governmental military bases and police stations. Clashes with the QLA and the military increased in intensity and frequency throughout the 1990s.
Rumours of routine civilian massacres performed by Canadian military forces were verified when 45 bodies were found in Joliette. Humanitarian agencies reported 70 bodies found in Trois Rivieres, 14 bodies found in St. Honore and 100 bodies found in Barraute. These massacres included close-range shootings, rape and mutilation. Images of burnt and disfigured bodies were broadcast to the rest of the world.
A massive expulsion of francophones began in the spring 1999. The QLA had grown in size, but were not equipped well enough to present a great threat to the Canadian military. The American border with Quebec became a site for massive refugee camps, overcrowded tent sites with little food, no electricity and no running water. The international community, seeing no other solution despite attempts at a negotiated settlement, opted for a NATO military intervention to halt the ethnic cleansing of the province. Only when a heavy air campaign was well underway and major Anglo-Saxon cities of Canada were bombed did the Canadian military begin to pull out of the province. The exact figures of dead and missing francophones are still unknown.
The above dates and numbers are directly taken from the history of Kosovo, the last piece of former Yugoslavia to break away from Serbian control. NATO's mission in Kosovo was launched to stop Serbian genocide and to allow for the return of Kosovar refugees. Since 1999, the UN and a locally elected government have administered Kosovo, though it remained legally a part of Serbia, until last Sunday when it announced its independence.
Canada currently has no position on Kosovo out of fear of what legal precedent may be created in future clashes with Quebec by doing so.
"We are assessing the situation," was the statement of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Drawing a parallel between Quebec and Kosovo is not only historically irresponsible, it is shameful. Canada did not choose to intimidate, attack or deport any of its Quebecois citizens, despite its historical political difficulties with the province. Arguments for the integrity of state borders become irrelevant when those living within those borders find life intolerable. If a precedent is set by Kosovo, it is one of warning as to what the singling out and mistreatment of an ethnic group can result in.
Serbia has lost the moral authority to rule in Kosovo. Through its brutality and unexplainable hatred towards all non-Serbians, Serbia has broken its own borders and the country which once was called Yugoslavia. This is why Kosovo's declaration of independence is a legal and long-delayed act of justice. This is why it has been recognized by 19 UN members and counting. The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany all recognized Kosovo within three days of its declaration.
Will Canada have the courage to join, or will it continue to draw non-existing parallels? I will end this letter by quoting journalist Roger Cohen: "Persecute a people with enough savagery, and they will in the end unite, rise up, fight and go their own way."
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1 comment:

Milan said...

You forgot to mention when French Speaking Quebecios , took 300 Canadians , took them to the forest , locked them and then sedated them and took their body organs one by one and then sold them to black market .HOW DID THAT SLIP YOUR MIND??? O i FOrgot , you only talk dirty of other people , not of yours ...